November 1, 2019

Heavy Rains Cause Flooding in Mews Hall and Loving House, Displacing Students

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During a Halloween night marked by heavy rain, a rush of dirty water breached the interior of Mews Hall and the Loving House dorms on North Campus, sending students scrambling.

Rain began building up around the east entrances to Mews at 6:45 p.m., before water then started seeping under doors and into the halls, prompting Cornell to offer emergency housing to four students.

“I exited my room around 6:45 p.m. … because I heard people yelling, and then there were some people in the hallway and I was like ‘oh god, that’s a lot of water,’” said Spencer Pote ‘22. “I was lucky it didn’t flow into my room.”

The Loving House, located on the first floor of Mews Hall, received the worst of the flooding. The main entrance to the hall was flooded with about an inch of water, while two of the rooms closest to the construction were soaked from water seeping through underneath the outer wall.

After water was discovered in the hallways, Clinton Egeland ’23 rushed to call the resident hall director Taylor Bouraad to inform her of the flooding, while quickly placing towels to stop the tide of water from reaching the room’s belongings.

“The water was slowly flowing between the wall and the floor. There were occasions in which the sediment contained in the water obscured the view of the rug,” Egeland said.

As the extent of the situation became clear, Jesse Corona ’22, one of the resident advisors, came through the residence hall, knocking on doors and shouting at the residents to unplug their electronic devices.

This was not Mews’ first brush with flooding this year: Only two weeks ago, on Oct. 16, the water level had almost reached the fire exit on the side of Mews bordering the North Campus Expansion Project.

As a result, residents believed the cause of the frequent flooding to be directly related to construction for the dorm expansion, with one student claiming to have identified the cause of Thursday night’s water build-up.

Lily Andersson ’23 said the storm drains outside Mews were covered by a rain barrier fabric, which was meant to prevent debris from entering the drain during construction, but instead lead to a pool of two feet of water.

“This is a very common way to prevent dust and sand going into the drain for construction but it should not be used for healthy weather,” said Andersson. “I realized that it would be better to have the storm drains have debris in it rather than the building get thousands of dollars in water damage.”

Andersson further explained that facilities asked what was happening, but did not help her in freeing the drains. When asked by a Sun reporter, Bouraad, the residential hall director for Mews, said she and the residential advisors are not allowed to comment on the issue mentioned by Andersson.

Four students were offered emergency housing for the weekend, as their rooms were flooded and needed to be thoroughly cleaned. Two of them declined and decided to stay in the dorms, while the other two packed bags for a stay in Hasbrouck, just a couple of minutes away from North Campus.

“I feel like it definitely could have been preventable and there were a lot of things missed along the way that led to this happening,” Pote said. “There was obviously a problem with the draining functions due to the construction which should have been figured out, especially because it has been raining the past couple days.”

This story will be updated.